Adolescent female pandas travel miles to seek mates

New York, March 16 (IANS) Unlike other mammals, female pandas approaching adulthood wander long distance looking for mating opportunities, new research has found.

Instead of waiting around for male callers, female adolscent pandas seem to rival the males in distances moved from home during mating season, the study said.

The findings suggest that giant pandas buck a mammal trend of girls staying closer to the home range.

There is also evidence that the adolescent females tend to disperse further than males, though they may return near their original home range to give birth and raise their cubs, said study co-author Thomas Connor from Michigan State University in the US.

“The tendency for female natal dispersal is an interesting behavioural adaptation that is uncommon in mammals, and not found in any other bear species,” Connor said.

For the study, published the journal Integrative Zoology, the researchers tracked five pandas with GPS collars in southwestern China and compared their analysis with other similar studies.

The pandas in the studies live in two mountain ranges — the Qionglai range, where the famous Wolong Nature Reserve is located, and the Qinling Mountains to the north.

Past studies did not agree on whether the brownish pandas in the Qinling range, which look a bit different from the more familiar Wolong pandas, had smaller or larger home ranges compared to those in the Qionglai.

The new study revealed that there is in fact no difference at all.

Despite a larger seasonal migration in the Qinling, pandas in both areas use a similar amount of territory, Connor said.

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